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|The Path Forward:
Christianity in America
Part II: Cold-Hearted Lawlessness
By Pastor Joe Fuiten
December 30, 2009
The recent cold-hearted execution shooting of four police officers in Lakewood and one in Seattle has done more than shock the nation. On Sunday, Pierce County mourned the slaying
of one of its deputy officers.
These events alarm us because deep down we fear it might signal some threshold in the advance of lawlessness. More than the breaking of the law, this was an attack upon law itself.
> The policeman symbolizes the rule of law.
> To kill the policeman is to assert individual sovereignty.
Most people recognize the anarchy inherent in the threat to the police. The unease in compounded with the shooting of two more police in Pierce County just before Christmas.
It is worth noting that Clemmons, the man who executed the Lakewood police officers, left his home that morning wanting to kill police and children. It is ultimate cold-heartedness to kill children and police. It wasn't just people but children, our future. He wasn't going for lawyers or legislators. He was going for police. He wasn't after postal employees, welfare workers, parole officers or other government employees. He wanted the people who give the law its force. Without police, laws passed by the legislature don't matter. Indeed, without police whatever anyone says of morality doesn't matter.
You don't have to be religious to feel the threat to
the American way of life by such cold-heartedness.
Indeed, I am proposing that secular people should join forces with what they call the religious right to stand against this threat. On a wide spectrum of issues of morality, the secular left has an interest in hoping for the religious success of people who preach the Bible. Even more than just religious success, secular people should want to encourage support for biblical morality in public life. In this section I hope to give a few reasons why.
What is the meaning of these police shootings?
Were the shootings just the cold-hearted acts of mentally unstable persons or the predictable outcome of the alienation of a cold-hearted society? My reading of the Bible suggests that the police shootings were different from, but still on the same continuum as, the passage of legislation that denies America's majority biblical morality or the administration officials like Daschle, Geithner, and Sebelius who hadn't paid their taxes.
> EACH represents a blow to the governance of God.
> EACH is a mileage marker toward the end of the road.
> EACH marks a sign of the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord.
Jesus prophesied that acting against the law would
be a sign of his coming and of the end of the age.
Please read the Scripture below and then let me give you a brief Bible study of Matthew 24:3-14 to show you what I mean:
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (NIV)
The disciples asked three questions in Matthew 24:3 including (1) the signs related to the Second Coming and (2) the signs related to the end of the age. In the answer that Jesus gave, I detect elements of our era.
People increasingly believe many paths lead to God.
The New Age movement has converted many to multiple "Christ spirits." These represent the kinds of deception spoken of in verses three and four. The Balkanization of the world into warring factions and tribes is in fulfillment of the prophecy of rumors of wars. The whole world has become kingdom against kingdom and nation against nation. The famines and earthquakes of verse seven are represented in the earth's convulsions in the weather. Jesus described what we are seeing in the world today as stage one, the beginning of birth pains.
Then Jesus gave a description of spiritual events.
In that description he drew a contrast between the spiritual decline produced by lawlessness with salvation that comes from standing firm. There is a prophecy about our times contained in the phrase, "the increase of wickedness. "In the Greek language "wickedness" is anomia, a violation of law. More than violating a specific law, it is the condition where a person is unwilling to be subject to biblical law.
I am making the case that Jesus was referring
to our day when he gave that prophecy.
If we are looking for evidence of "the increase of wickedness" we won't necessarily hear that terminology. Here are a few samples of how I think we would hear it today:
> "Nobody is going to tell me what to do."
> "You don't have the right to impose your religion on my body."
> "Keep your religion out of my bedroom (pharmacy, operating room, etc., etc.)."
> "Equality demands that we grant marriage benefits, if not the name itself, to same-sex partners."
> "Religion and politics must be separate."
In recent times, many, if not most appeals to freedom, equality as applied to homosexuals, libertarianism, liberalism, or individualism are sophisticated political language for this same spirit. Beyond words, the failure to pay taxes unless you are up for nomination to a high government post reflects lawlessness. Such attitudes are the anomia of which Jesus spoke. It is unwillingness to be subject to biblical law. I expect any objective observer can see the increase in this attitude and secularists might even celebrate such increase.
indicated that the consequence of people not willing to be governed by
biblical law is that most people will drift away from God. It would be obvious that those who don't want to be governed by biblical law will drift from the love of God, but will that really affect the spirituality of most people in that society?
From Jesus we learn that the spirit that opposes
biblical law is a cold spirit that chills the soul.
It might seem to some that promotion of gay marriage or abortion rights should be considered political opinion rather than opposition to God's law, wickedness, or love grown cold. But if we take the words of Jesus seriously, then we must agree that the consequence of increasingly rejecting biblical law is coldness of heart. It is a spiritual thing to reject biblical law in any part.
If rejection of biblical law leads to coldness
of heart, does imposition of biblical law
lead to warmness of heart?
Does piety at any level come by law? There is a whole group within the Evangelical world that would say no. But logic would say yes if for no other reason than that acceptance of biblical law is not anomia. The answer of history is that while public law is no substitute for private faith, at a minimum, it isn't opposed to it either.
As we indicated in Part I of this series, from Theodosius I to the present generations, Christians in particular and Westerners in general have believed that biblical values should be reflected in law. Even people like Benjamin Franklin, who was not a Christian, wanted Christianity to do well in America because of what it produced. He is in contrast to some Christians who don't want biblical values expressed in law.
From the contrast that Jesus offered we can say that rejection of biblical law produces cold-hearted people, while standing firm in faith and adherence to biblical law leads to salvation. Cold-hearted people not only kill police and children but they do a lot of other harm as well. A cold heart sends a shiver through all of society not just the one who has it. We have a collective interest in warm-hearted people. That would be one kind of global warming we could all happily welcome.
If the culture adopts as public policy that we are not going to allow biblical ideas to be expressed in the law, or explicitly biblical values to be facilitated by public (governmental) means, the Bible would call that anomia.
What are the consequences of such anomia?
The public chants for freedom, but when we work to destroy the foundation for biblical law everything else built on that foundation is at risk. When we undermine biblically based law, we get the law of unintended consequences. We might hit the immediate target, but the whole of the law is put at risk. We end up killing the policeman who is there to save us, and not just the individual law we dislike.
Having biblical law reflected in law with majority support is easy, but it is still biblical law when only a minority supports it. To my secular friends I would say, you have more freedom when we all live by biblical law than you would have if all biblical restraints are removed from society. Therefore, even an atheist has an interest in the success of the church I pastor.
American notions of the separation of church and state, at least as presently being used to withdraw biblical morality from law, will serve to destroy the foundation for all law, not just the ones we dislike. It will produce coldness of heart and cold-hearted people do cold-hearted things that make our lives and society worse.
By contrast, Jesus promised that those who stand firm against anomia will be saved. The humility of "standing firm" under God's law, in this case, is in contrast to being unwilling to be governed by biblical law.
There are two parallel, but opposite ideas expressed in the statement of Jesus "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." Wickedness, or anomia, is opposition to biblical law. On the other side is "standing firm".
Is standing firm exclusively a personal response
or is there something of this same idea when
we pass laws that reflect biblical values?
I suspect how we answer that question greatly impacts whether we become politically active or politically passive.
This concludes Part II of Pastor Joe Fuiten's series:
The Path Forward: Christianity in America
Click here to read and/or listen to Part I of Pastor Joe Fuiten's series: The Path Forward: Christianity in America: Looking for Lessons from early Christian History.
|Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten is the senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and he is the former president of Positive Christian Agenda. Currently, Pastor Fuiten serves on the Board of Directors for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an associate organization of Focus on the Family.